Sunday, January 08, 2006

eyeCandy: Good Night and Good Luck (2005) 5/5

Good Night and Good Luck is the second film directed by George Clooney. At a slim 93 minutes, Clooney exercises restraint (far too uncommon in directors nowadays) without ever shortchanging the viewer. The quality of Good Night, combined with his excellent directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, has caused me to re-evaluate my earlier hypothesis that Confessions was a collaborative directorial effort in which I suspected Steven Soderbergh of playing a much larger role than his Executive Director title suggested.

Good Night and Good Luck is the true story of CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow (played to perfection by David Strathairn) who, in early 1950's America, played a significant role in taking down Senator Joseph McCarthy, the head of a veritable witch-hunt for alleged communist sympathizers in United States. This is not the first movie to address the unfortunate era of McCarthyism (Guilty by Suspicion with Robert DeNiro is another good one), but it may be the best yet.

I sometimes find the use of black and white in modern films to be a little pretentious, but here it is effective and entirely justifiable. From a more functional standpoint, it allows the seamless incorporation of archival footage from the time in question - in fact, there is no actor playing Senator McCarthy, he is depicted solely and to great effect through actual footage. On top of this important consideration, the black and white film certainly reinforces the feel of those times as well.

As I've said before, there is something I find very rewarding in films based on fact, especially ones that deal with such important historical events as this. Watching the movie, one cannot help but be impacted by Mr. Murrow's powerfully effective prose (much of his on-air dialog in the film is taken directly from his actual broadcasts) - balanced and rational, but with an emotional poignancy that comes from knowing what you are saying is right and true and good. George Clooney plays Murrow's producer, Fred Friendly (just as Clooney took a significant role in Confessions), and the cast as a whole is top-rate (including Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Daniels, and many other familiar faces).

I'll end this entry with a quote from the Mr. Murrow's "A Report on Joseph R. McCarthy" aired on CBS on March 9th, 1954:

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men -- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home."

We'd all do well to still heed those words today.
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1/08/2006 09:16:00 p.m.  


Blogger Mel said...

I was half hearted about watching this film, but since reading your post I am excited about watching GN&GL - thanks for the quote as well.

January 09, 2006 9:22 p.m.  

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